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Lecture 9: Ageism & Sexism
-when we are in trouble...we rely on stereotypes/have bias....want younger/male lawyers; old =
cognitive/physical decline...out of date, but has more experience
Ageism: stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination based on AGE; can be applied to ppl that are younger
or older....usually older ppl; understudied; elderly = over 65
-ppl are living longer and are healthier
-all people will become old.....a former out-group will become in-group!
-ageism can take a number of forms ex. Patronizing/changes in language....speak very
slowly/deliberately/loudly; overaccomodation; baby talk...way u talk
-Patronizing behaviour...way u act; infantalization; condescending treatment....when ur old and waiting at
lights...ready to cross...someone grabs ur hand and walks u across the street....u feel terrible cuz u can
walk/cross by urself....msg = weak and inferior
*expectations can b clearly wrong; we think they are kind, slow, sharpless mind, frail...physical and
mental deterioration...there is SOME decline but not much....many mental declines r a result of SELF-
FULFILLING PROPHECY...physical is NOT that much!
-Study by Perdue & Gurtman (1990)....looked at ageism at implicit level...automatic/negative
stereotypes....w/out intention/desire...can’t control them. They used Evaluative priming task....participants
are shown the word “Old” or “Young” for only 55ms (primed)....very brief. They were shown words after
that were positive or negatively valenced. The participants had to press a button and say whether the word
was Good or Bad. Reaction time was measured...the FASTER the RT, the STRONGER the association!
Young participants. Young is associated with POSITIVE words and Old is related to Negative words.
RESULTS: priming words r either young or old. For “Young”, ppl were quick to respond to POSITIVE
words....less/quicker reaction time compared to a negative word. For “Old” priming...NO differentiation
b/n good and bad/positive or negative traits. This means when ppl see “Young” and think about young
people, they show IN-group bias and associated them with positive traits and had a harder time
associating young w/ negative traits. When see “Old”...not evaluated as more positive or
negative....there’s no out-group derogation, there’s in-group favouritism/bias....IMPLICIT/AUTOMATIC
associated.....it’s not rly out-group bias...differentiation in OLD and not in young. (criticism)
-a house/shoes/objects can be old....criticism of study
**other studies showed some out-group derogation and it’s a SOCIAL construct!...humans
***A problem with Gurtman et al.’s study on implicit attitude towards the elderly....Answer: Results
may NOT generalize to social evaluation. Also, true is the results showed in-group bias!!!
Origins of Ageism:
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-age is very salient in society and made MORE salient by societal age grading....ex. in schools, ur put
into separate grades....but, children don’t actually develop so distinctly!...doesn’t accurately reflect
-ex. of age differentiation: who pays wut on the TTC (TTC fare), Movies are age-graded, bars, voting.
*As a result, ppl ascribe characteristics to categories formed by age being salient
-ppl r group age even though it is CONTINUOUS
-evaluation of Ageism.....generally, ppl derogate OLDER ppl = Dominance of youth culture....60’s and
70’s r discriminated
- Marketers LOVE young ppl....fewer obligations...can get them for life...ignore older ppl...they’ll die
sooner...won’t consume product for many yrs....ex. music, fashion...marketed for young.
-Media plays a role in out-group derogation of elderly....ex. associating older ppl w/ shoes...old/not pretty
from outside but pretty from inside, also lightings...poking fun at old ppl, ads for hand bags...OLD BAGS
= old women....derogating....there’s a tolerance for ageism in society that doesn’t exist for other groups
-Fear of Death: older ppl remind us of our own mortality....Terror management theory: we have anxiety
where young ppl/we want to not think about death, to deny/avoid it....old ppl r visible reminders of our
own death...we say they r bad/NOT like us at all!!!
Terror Management Theory: We ALL are going to die!!! No one wants to think about it...buffer the
realization/knowledge...cuz it makes us feel anxious/worried...we derogate old ppl cuz they remind us of
Study by Martens et al., 2004: ppl find elderly threatening b/c they remind us of death. He exposed ppl to
older ppl’s images and then had them complete sentence fragments......example: DE _ _ _ or SK _ _ _.
After seeing pictures of elderly ppl, ppl are more likely to write “Death” or “Skull”. This shows elderly
remind us of death. Out-group bias is b/c of mortality salience.
-once we become old, wut happens when the stereotypes about old start to apply to us!
***stereotypes can operate below awareness/consciousness
-when u become older, old is ur in-group, all of a sudden..all the stereotypes u unconsciously had about
elderly..start AFFECTING your behaviours!!! And ur expectations about being old.
-Longitudinal study: look at young ppl and FOLLOW them for 20-30 yrs later
-Study by Levy & Levy: Effects of ageist self-stereotypes; see wut stereotypes about elderly that a 30 yrs
old or 40 yr old holds....followed for many yrs after. RESULTS: Some ppl had more stereotypes of
elderly than others....ppl w/ more NEGATIVE perceptions/stereotypes of elderly....when they became
old...were MORE likely to become sick/die younger/memory loss/problems related to getting old...ONLY
difference = attitude when they were younger!!! Ppl w/ positive self-stereotypes....better health
outcomes/fewer heart attacks/strokes...lived 7.5 yrs LONGER. We know eating well/diet and exercise is
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